The Green Dove

Another installment of this swift-moving tale of adventure in the Java seas

R. V. GERY April 15 1930

The Green Dove

Another installment of this swift-moving tale of adventure in the Java seas

R. V. GERY April 15 1930

The Green Dove


Another installment of this swift-moving tale of adventure in the Java seas

BELIEVE there never was a more completely flabbergasted lot than Stekhine and his ruffianly followers.For minutes they seemed to forget us altogether, and the dimlit cabin was filled with argument and altercation Stekhine apparently taking out his confusion on Fong, and Fong has all seeming giving as good as he got: while the rest of the crowd, chatrered like jackdaws in half the languages of the East.

It came. Stekhine suddenly spat a dozen rapid orders, and the underlings rushed out, leaving the torches flaring in the hands of a couple of their number. Then the Russian turned his attention to us.

^ ou may prepare yourselves,” he sayji f|piitrolling himself with a great effort, "In a few b^krijf tfe land. Green Dove or no Green Dove. And you an ending that will be at least pictuflpP^.

He jumped to his feet and came ana nood over us, and I think 1 realized then for the first tL^ wkat manner of man we had to deal with. I had originally placed him as something of an epicure in «Uv tr .ruelty; bul th,livi,I «litter behind his eyes as lie g ] a rr -i-JWPBii i WPW-W down at us, helpless at feet, made me revise tny mate. Here was no ep but a plain glutton. And hind him was thejdfflpH enigmatic (JtinaíhjN»,

"Go on, the' perately; the. prolonging £ there wert were stiff, don’t yoefy it right Mw. thatV hHw feel abndfc$

His un {Sîffiant grin showed once more.

“No, my little

Trant jumped to an o a r.

“Flow like the d e v i I,” he snapped.

5 sense in ir^.jfffthough here that îpéd. “ Why-

friend,” he said. “That comes later. There are others to satisfy yet. I am,” he dropped his voice into a kind of mock humility, “nothing more than a servant. There are greater than I in the Society—and there is the Society itself, which will take no harm from seeing its enemies die. Tomorrow, Mr. Lorimer, you and your fat friend here will have the honor of demonstrating in public; and let me assure you that we have some real virtuosos to perform on you ...”

He broke off, and Fong cut in.

“I trust,” he said in his stilted English, “that I shall myself be permitted to . officiate!”

Andries had been perfectly silent all this time, breathing heavily, as a fat man will in bonds. Now he broke out.

“Cut oudt der bobbery!” he said savagely. “Id is nod

funny und I am tired of these very7 damned ropes of yours. Put us on our feet, und we will show7 you, maybe . ”

Stekhine laughed outright. “Oh, you will be a great deal more uncomfortable soon,” he sneered. “Just now I have other things to do than listen to your whining.” He turned to Fong. “Get them taken back to their kennel,” he ordered. “In the morning we will see to them.”

Fong clapped his hands, and a couple of the tall Asiatics came in. Once more we were roughly picked up, bundled out of the cabin, and back into the black darkness of our cubby-hole amidships.

iVNDRIES had once more fallen into one of his Dutch ^ *■ silences, compared to which the grave is garrulous. For a long half-hour he lay puffing in the darkness, and I could hear him now and then wrestling with his bonds. But there w7as not much satisfaction to be got out of that exercise; nothing short of steel was going to be of use in freeing us. And if we got free ... ?

“This is a poor lookout,” I said at last, more to get the old man to talk than for any other reason. I’m free to admit I wanted company badly, and Andries’ views wouldn’t be without interest. He has an extensive and peculiar acquaintance with the East, and if he’s nervous about a situation, I’m not the one to be unduly brazen.

“da," he went on, “id is nod goodt, dis. Dot schellum meant business, Lorimer. I do nod like him. Der torture,” he puffed hard, “aind’t bretty . .”

No. Judging from some of the colorful yarns Andries had told me on night watches on the Hendryk Van Dam how far she seemed away7, and how lightly I had taken his circumstantial yarns !—I did not in the least desire to find myself pegged out and at the mercy of Stekhine and his experts. You can laugh as much as you like at the ingenuities in inflicting pain popularly credited to the East, but they exist all right. Exist as an art, too. And to be faced with the possibility of encountering a selection of them in your own person isn’t any pleasant experience. I began to wonder what it would be like,

ages of uul and

jackdaws ii

the East. Andries and I. still . prone on the floor, had to await our

It came. Stekhine

and how long it would last, and so on ... thoroughly morbid speculation no doubt, but that junk was enough to turn anyone morbid.

WE BEGAN to speculate on the time once more. It was certainly welk after midnight, although how long we had no means of discovering. Our ropas still held as tightly as ever, and we were agonizedly stiff from them; moreover, we were very thirsty. I was just wondering whether they were going to add torture by thirst to the other little unpleasantnesses Stekhine had promised us, when there came the pad of feet outside the door, it was unlocked and thrust open, and a tall yellow man came in with a lantern and a dingy-looking water-beaker. I noticed he carried a highly incongruous revolver.

Grinning as if at a great joke, he gave each of us a swig of the stale water, and in that frightful atmosphere it was like nectar. For a wild instant, bound as I was, the idea flicked across my mind to make an attempt, however desperate, at kicking his feet from under him; but the fellow evidently read my thoughts, for he tapped the revolver butt with significance. Andries shook his head. “No sense,” he grumbled.

The man withdrew, and darkness descended on us once again. We listened gloomily enough to him fumbling with the catch of the door, and I heard Andries muttering things under his breath.

Then all at once it became obvious that there were some very strange things happening at the other side of that door. A scuffle, a bump, and I could almost have sworn a snap like a breaking shoe-lace.

Once more the door-latch rattled, and yellow lantern light filtered into our prison. There was the shuffle of feet, and sounds as of a heavy body being dragged along the floor; the lantern was momentarily obscured by a tall figure, casting fantastic shadows on the walls of our cell. Then the light flickered an instant on the newcomer’s face, and I could have shouted aloud. It was Trant, and behind him he dragged what a glance sufficed to identify as our late attendant, limp and pliant.

With a grin, more welcome than any lamplight, he produced a knife and cut our wrist and ankle ropes.

“Now,” he whispered, “limber up a bit. There’s no time to lose.”

Frantically, and very painfully, we rubbed life back into our limbs, while Trant went to the door, and stood listening intently. He seemed entirely at his ease. Andries suddenly began to chuckle.

“I told you,” he said to me,

“dot he is a devil, dis Trant.

Where haf you chumped from, funny mans? Id is always der same mit you—dricks and dricks again. What is der game now, madman?” ,

Trant looked down at us, passionately at work on our circulation. Then, in a rapid whisper, he told us something of his more recent exploits.

"Well,” he said.

“I saw you off all right. Wasn’t thirty feet from the two of you on the beach there, and I’d the hardest job of my life not to drill Master Fong when he made

off with Tonia. But. it wouldn’t have done much good, as I saw it—so I let ’em take you, slipped into the water a couple of hundred yards up the beach, and swam off to this lugger. By Allah’s mercy there weren’t any sharks about, and as a special dispensation they left a boat towing. I spent some cheerful hours in that boat.” He looked it. His ordinary carelessness was complicated by a drenching with salt water, his hands were in ribbons, and there was an interesting cut over one eye. Still, he was as steady as a rock, and he grinned comically down at us once more.

“They didn’t spot me,” he went on. “So after a bit I got restless and shinned up the towrope.” He glanced down at his hands. “Met a bird on the stern who seemed a bit curious about me, so I pitched him overboard. Sat there a while, watching them navigating all over the high seas, until I heard a lot of gabble out of the dark below me. Dropped over the rail to a porthole, and there was, our friend Stekhine, orating to you. Put his light out for him, grabbed this little fellow,” he pulled the Green Dove out of his pocket, ‘ and collared Tonia. Then there was you—so here I am; and there’s that poor devil.” He nodded toward the huddled figure in the corner. “Had to scrag him to get to you at all.” He stopped his whispering, and the three of us listened with strained ears. There was no sound, save for the continued wash of the sea against the vessel’s skin, and now and again the creak of a timber. Over all that crowded hull an enigmatical silence brooded; I found myself wondering just what old Stekhine was doing, now that his prized talisman had been taken from him. But, by all seeming, in our stuffy confinement, we might have been a thousand miles from anywhere.

Andries spoke. “Come!” he said. “Dere is aboudt enough of sitting here like vrouws at a burying. Trant, where is der girl?”

For answer, Trant went to the door. “You’d better put that light out,” he said. “We’ll have to make a rush for it, I expect—and you may as well take that fellow’s revolver off him. If you want it, you’ll want it badly; so don’t be afraid to shoot.”

Very cautiously he slid the door back, and the three of us were out in the inky blackness of the passageway, corridor, or whatever is the correct term for a stifling alley in the bowels of a fifty-year-old junk.

For a moment we stood motionless, backs to the wall, our eyes striving to pierce the darkness. Andries, I

knew, had the revolver, and I could picture the old man’s eagerness to use it if occasion arose. He is not a person who very readily forgets or

forgives an injury, and his dignity had been mortally offended by bondage.

Trant touched me on the shoulder, and we began to slip along the wall, step by cautious step, feeling our way gropingly in the dark.

All at once, away forward, or aft—I had no notion of our whereabouts in the vessel—a gleam of light shone out into the alleyway; a flickering, bobbing gleam, which could only come from one illuminant—a lantern carried by a man. I heard Trant catch his breath through his teeth, and the three of us stopped, huddled in the black shelter of a projecting bulkhead. I felt rather than saw the faint reflection of the light on metal as Andries thrust the Chinaman’s pistol forward.

With the light came footsteps, and in a moment we could see the lantern-bearer. It was Fong, and with him was the Russian. There was a swift movement beside me, and I knew that Trant had reached back and gripped Andries’ trigger hand. In utter silence, and with pounding hearts, we awaited the advance of our two enemies.

Silently and without haste they came down the passage, and—just as I was steeling my nerves for the thunder of Andries’ pistol—swung aside into a door, not three yards from us. We heard the murmur of voices. Obviously, the two were returning from an abortive search of the ship.

I think the same notion flashed across our minds simultaneously. I could feel the other two tense themselves beside me, and then, at Trant’s whispered, “Come on!” we made for the door and flung it open.

It was the same room we had previously seen. Behind the table Stekhine was seated, chin on hand, with the Chinaman bending over him, apparently in earnest conversation. As we burst in, they looked up, straight into the unwavering muzzle of the Dutchman’s pistol. Stekhine’s face froze into an ugly mask, while Fong’s jaw dropped at sight of Trant.

“Don’t move, gentlemen, please!” the latter said sharply. “Lorimer, the curtains—tie ’em up!”

There was a length of duffle-colored stuff hanging over the porthole, and I yanked it down. Together, while the skipper held the two of them motionless with the revolver, Trant and I had the ineffable pleasure of serving Stekhine and Fong as they had served us, and in a couple of minutes they were mere helpless bales on the floor.

“Now what?” 1 asked Trant. We had carried out our raid in the strictest silence, and overhead the ship was still quiet, except for the trample of bare feet on the planking now and then, as if sail were being shifted, or course changed; once in a while someone, the steersman probably, uttered a long-drawn-out cry. But it did not.

do to anticipate any continuance of these conditions. We had to get out, and get out quickly.

Trant went to the window and peered out. The sky was lightening rapidly, and the stars had already begun to fade in the increasing dawn. He took a careful look down the ship’s side, and then turned back to us.

"This way,” he said. "It’s not too easy. I’m afraid. Someone’ll have to slip aft and get at the towrope. The boat’s there all right, though—and Tonia.”

Andries pushed his bull neck through the square porthole.

“Ja,” he said, after a second’s inspection. “Dot is easy!”

He swung his thick body up on the ledge, and wormed halfway through the square aperture. Even as he did so, there came the same weird cry from the deck, and course was shifted—one could feel the alteration in the junk’s motion over the waves.

"Now or neffer!” panted Andries, and Trant nodded.

Twenty feet down the junk’s side—like all her kind she was built without any tumble-home, but on a sheer inward slope from rail to waterline—the boat’s towrope hung tightening and slackening with the waves. It was well out of reach, of course, but Andries without a word spread himself spider-wise along the planks—he seemed to have hooks instead of hands—caught it, and after a second's suspension, dropped lightly into the little vessel. A minute later he had drawn her up close underneath the porthole, and we were cautiously dropping aboard.

“Cast off!” Trant whispered. Andries slashed through the rope with a knife, and in a moment we were bobbing and swaying in the junk’s wake.

A heap of rags in the bow of the boat stirred, and Tonia smiled at us in the quickly growing light. Trant went forward, while Andries and I busied ourselves getting out a pair of clumsy sweeps and turning the boat’s head to the sea.

As we swung her, there was a sudden outburst of shouting on the junk, and the roar of a great gong.

Trant jumped to an oar. "Row like the devil,” he snapped.

TD ET WEEN us we made that clumsy shallop fairly surge over the swell toward the beach. We had plenty of incentive to effort, since the junk, plain in view now, was seething with activity and vociferous with all the unearthly noises the perturbed yellow man can achieve. Looking over Andries’ broad back, I watched her company running about the decks, falling over one another in their hurry to get her two or three remaining boats filled and away; I imagined I could even see Stekhine directing operations.

What was going to come of it I hadn’t the remotest notion, any more than 1 had of how our two gentlemen on board had got out of the sweet seclusion in which we had left them. All my energies were concentrated on getting dry land under my feet again, and something solid to put between ourselves and that hornet-swarm tumbling over the junk’s bulwarks half a mile away. Indeed, as we tugged and strained at the unwieldy sweeps, something sang over our heads with a vicious crack, and I heard Trant mutter, "High-power rifle!” And thereafter we put every ounce of our last strength behind that boat.

Providentially, there was no barrier reef, and with a final spurt we drove through the breaking surf, coming breathlessly near being swamped in the process, and landing with a rush of the muddy beach, within twenty yards of the edge of the trees. Trant whirled Tonia out of the bottom of the boat, and hustled her before him into cover; Andries and 1 followed suit, while a succession of the familiar whiplash cracks overhead hastened our movements. We crashed through a low’ belt of undergrowth into the shadow of tall palms and hardwoods; and then we ran helter-skelter for the interior of Java, careless of the Javanese, of reputed tigers, snakes, and other such small fry, and without one idea in a hundred of whither we might be running.

Trant pulled us up at last. He W’as half-carrying the girl anyway, and we were all of us blown and beginning to panic.

“Hold hard,” he panted. “There’s no sense in this. Let’s get our breath.”

We halted, listening anxiously over our shoulders for news of Stekhine and his mob behind us. We had not to listen long. That cheerful crew were coming down wind making more noise than a line of beaters in a pheasant preserve at home; I began to realize once more the unpleasant lot of the hunted.

Trant glanced about him with quick eyes. There was nothing comforting in the patch of woodland we had fallen upon. Before us the trees stretched unbrokenly to a rise in the ground, and brown and inhospitable rocks were the only variant to the solid tropical greenery. Odd birds squawked and hooted at us from the branches; but they were no odder or more fantastic in their cries than the pack which screamed and jabbered among the undergrowth a few hundred yards distant from us.

Once again the four of us looked at one another

doubtfully, with the hope of escape fading from our eyes. I think even Andries began to despair, for he sat himself down methodically with his back to a tree, and hauled out his pipe again, as if for a final smoke. I heard him grunt something about allen verloren, and agreed with him that things did indeed look pretty much all forlorn for the lot of us.

Trant and the girl stood together a little apart, and what they were saying to one another was eminently none of my business. I strolled idly about the little open space among the trees, kicking at pebbles, detachedly interested in small things—I remember watching a tiny brown lizard darting here and there on a stone — and listening to pandemonium creeping up on us. The curious clarity that extreme peril can bring to the human mind, a kind of desperate aloofness, descended upon me, and I imagine on all of us. We must have made a queer picture.

And then, quite suddenly, the threatening uproar lessened, wavered, and stopped. Cries, sounding like orders, echoed among the tree stems; and all in a minute or so there was perfect silence on our little stage, so that the surf’s wash came clearly to us, and the screaming of the birds.

“What’s the matter now?” said Trant. There was an eerie five minutes, while we waited for what might be coming next. I don’t think we any of us expected much.

' I TIIRTY yards away the trees parted, and a couple of fellows—tall Asiatics, and that’s about all you could say for them—stalked out into the open. They carried Winchesters, and moved with a certain drilled precision. Behind them came another pair; and behind them again our friend Stekhine, a trifle the worse for our little attentions, but pompous enough, nevertheless. At his side walked a new figure, and at sight of him I heard Tonia gasp.

I should say the man must have been in the late thirties, and what impressed one immediately was his commanding height. Even Stekhine looked like a deformity beside him, and the stalwart guards—for that is what they obviously were—seemed insignificant. He walked with the stride of an athlete in some kind of flowing white dress, and he wore a small peaked beard, dark and carefully trimmed. And he was obviously Anglo-Saxon; as obviously as Stekhine was Russian, and as Fong, whose pallid yellow face I saw in the background, was a Mongol.

There wasn’t any doubt who this was. Here was the being behind the whole business., the Deliverer the Green Doves had got hold of, that Tony Rocco had heard about, and that Tonia had once seen. The girl’s parted lips and horror-stricken eyes were enough to tell us that. But what was he doing in this place? Where had he sprung from? And in heaven’s name, what was the meaning of that distinctive western cut of the jib?

We stood, I suppose, gaping at him stupidly enough. Andries had heaved himself to his feet at the first appearance of these people, and the four of us were close together. Stekhine said something to the tall man, and was answered with a nod; then he advanced on us with Fong at his heels.

"Ah,” he observed. "The tables turned again, eh? Well, you will remember, maybe, what I told you last night. I do not as a rule permit my enemies to escape me - nor to offer me indignities. I think you may very well prepare yourselves for some exceedingly unpleasant moments.”

Andries growled at him and pulled out the revolver; but once more Trant, w'ho had been interestedly watching the tall stranger twenty yards away, caught his wrist.

"No, Piet,” was all he said, and the Dutchman, still muttering, subsided.

In a few moments wTe had been roughly seized and bound once more—there was a terrific howl at the discovery of the Green Dove on Trant—and were being hustled along through the trees toward the sea again. As we went I caught a fleeting glimpse of Fong, once more carrying Tonia in his arms. And that seemed to set the seal on a hopeless business.

I said as much to Trant, trussed up between two ruffians at my side. He shook his head.

“Looks bad all right,” he said. "But I don’t somehow think we’re done yet.”

AFTER ten minutes, I began to understand just what we had done in escaping from that junk. We came out on the seashore at a point maybe a mile from where we had made our hurried landing; and there, within three hundred yards of the shore, and anchored in a deep water creek, was our ancient friend, her sails now’ brailed up, and looking for all the world like a peaceful trader.

In front of us was a big bungalow, hidden among great trees that grew nearly to the water’s edge. It was just the sort of place one might imagine as the retreat of a successful planter, and I wondered as we advanced when and how this crowd had got hold of it. Anyway, one thing was clear enough. We had made our getaw’ay from

the junk merely to walk straight into the Society’s arms; and, with Stekhine’s vivid prognostications still hot in my mind, I must say I entered the place with the liveliest forebodings.

Inside, it had been repaired ard patched up, with a view, it was clear, of being occupied for some time. There was quite a deal of whitewash about, and the place smelt surprisingly clean for a house tenanted by Stekhine’s mob. As a matter of fact, we found out later that with the exceptiop^of regularly posted sentries and guards the place was reserved for the tall white man, Stekhine, Fong, aim a couple of attendants.

They threw' }is roughly into a room, and once again the door slammed shut on us. Trant, who had fallen into a kind of musing abstraction, grinned at us in something of his old fashion.

“This is getting monotonous,” he said.

Monotony seemed to me to be about the very last charge that could be laid against our present existence, and I said so.

“What kind of a chance d’you think there is of our getting clear of this?” I asked.

He looked at me oddly, and shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said soberly. “Pretty small, maybe. But I’ll tell you something. I’ve seen their leader before somewhere, I’m nearly certain—but just now I can’t place him. And—why, I don’t know—it seems to me that there’s trouble brewing inside this outfit. Stekhine’s too big for his boots, a lot.”

I nodded. “Yes,” I said. “There doesn’t seem to be any very great love lost between them, somehow. I wonder ...”

“May be nothing at all in it,” Trant said. "But I’m not giving up until I’ve had another look at that lad. Meanwhile, there isn’t anything to do but wait, and try not to worry any more than’s necessary ...”

He smiled again, a trifle lopsidedly. There was Tonia to consider, and none of us found her a comforting subject for meditation.

Time w'ore on, and the shadows grew shorter on the floor as the sun crept overhead. Now and again we heard a burst of chattering outside, and once a gong sounded in the distance, probably on the junk down in the creek. Outside our window on the verandah we could hear the pad-pad of a sentry, but otherwise no one came near us for hours.

Then at last there w'ere footsteps outside the door, and once more Stekhine entered, followed by half a dozen guards.

“Now',” he said with a kind of deadly suavity, “you are about to see, gentlemen, that there are some things about which it is inadvisable to be too curious.”

They hustled us out of the room, still between a pair of guards apiece, and out on to a flat clearing in front of the house.

TT WAS an impressive enough spectacle that greeted

us. There must have been a good hundred and fifty men, gathered in a kind of hollow square about a raised dais with a kind of throne on it. The strong sun beat down on the savage faces, and also on a highly suggestive little row of three posts, newly driven into the ground before the platform. In the great chair, chin on hand and staring straight before him with a pair of odd dark eyes, was the strange personage we had seen in the wood that morning.

Our guards halted us in perfect silence, and Stekhine advanced to the man in the chair. With a deference that struck me as forced, he said something to him in a low tone, and stood bareheaded, awaiting an answer.

For a long minute it did not come. The man’s eyes turned on us slowly, and subjected us to a long and searching scrutiny. Then he spoke to Stekhine, and in English.

"There wTas a woman,” he said. “Where is she?”

The Russian was apparently ready to make some objection, but the other simply ignored him, and turned to the Chinaman, Fong, w'ho stood at the side of the platform. "Bring her here,” he commanded in a dry voice. Fong, after a second’s hesitation and a glance at Stekhine, ambled off into the house, and once again the oppressive silence fell. I found myself watching Trant and the stranger, who were apparently each trying to out-stare the other—Trant with unsatisfied curiosity in his keen blue eyes, and the man in the chair w'ith a steady unfathomable regard. It was a most curious couple of minutes, for no one in the assembly made a sound. You could hear the birds in the trees, and the wash of the surf on the beach a quarter of a mile away.

Then Fong came out of the house with Tonia, and I noted with some relief that the girl seemed to have been fairly well treated. She w'as pale and obviously horribly frightened, but there were no signs of any active brutality having been practised on her. The two of them advanced to the dais, and once more the tall man shot one of his inscrutable glances at them.

Then he spoke, this time to Stekhine again.

“Who are these people?” he asked deliberately.

Continued on page 70

The Green Dove

Continued from page 24

The Russian started to tell him, in a perfect torrent of words. I don’t suppose there was anyone present, except the tall man, who could understand him in detail, but it was perfectly clear what he was driving at. The man wanted onr blood, and a good deal worse, and his vehemence gave me the shivers even under that scorching sun. It wasn’t in the least a j comfortable sensation, this listening to a man making an impassioned appeal to be allowed to subject you to any hideous cruelties he might think fit, by way of gingering up his brutal crowd of followers. For that was entirely obviously what he was demanding.

Finally, he ran down, and turned to the ranks about him. By name he summoned three or four unsavory looking characters, who slouched forward to the suggestive stakes and stood as if ready for business. I had my heart in my boots, I don’t mind admitting; but a look at Trant somehow changed things for me. He was smiling gently to himself, and the cloud of doubt had cleared from his brow.

The tall man suddenly addressed him in English. “Did you understand any of that?” he asked. “You are accused of stealing the Green Dove, and of being enemies of the Society. Have you anything to say?

There was no doubt where this odd person had originally come from, however 1 dramatically he might be disguised at present. That accent was neither Asiatic, nor Continental. An Englishman, and a cultivated Englishman, was addressing us.

Trant replied for us. “Certainly,” he said cheerfully. “I see no point in denying it.”

The other continued to probe us with his eyes. “Well,” he said at last, “I suppose you know what the penalty is likely to be, all three of you?”

Trant nodded. “Yes,” he said lightly. “If Mr. Stekhine has his way. The question is, does he?”

The tall man smiled faintly at the sheer impertinence of the question, and Stekhine, who had been listening with illconcealed impatience, cut in.

“There is no question of my way or not my way,” he said. “These people are our deadly enemies. Therefore they must die.”

Once again there was a long silence, pregnant with suspense, while the man in the chair seemed to be considering. At last he spoke.

“Very well,” he said deliberately. “I believe you may be right.”

So much for the hope that this Britisher was, after all, on our side of the fence. The little smile suddenly faded from Trant’s face, Tonia gave a cry of agony, and the Russian simply exuded gratification. He said something in Chinese to his attendants, and they advanced to lay hands on us. This, it seemed was the end of things.

The tall man suddenly got to his feet. “Wait!” he commanded. “There is a great deal to ke done before that.”

To be Concluded


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